U.K. bans all Boeing 777s with PW4000 engines after Denver engine blowout

After an incident over Denver at the weekend where one of the Pratt & Whitney engines on a Boeing 777 caught fire, the U.K has banned all other 777s with this engine type from entering its airspace. In turn, Boeing has advised all airlines which operate this older model of aircraft, the 777-200 and 777-300, to ground them until further notice.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had issued an emergency directive to require immediate or enhanced inspections of similar 777 models to the one involved in the Denver incident, before Boeing recommended their grounding. U.K. Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said he would “continue to work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to monitor the situation.”

Shortly after takeoff from Denver on Saturday, flight 328, en route to Honolulu, suffered a catastrophic failure of its starboard engine, which caught fire after an explosion which scattered debris across a residential area in Denver. Despite the volume of debris, remarkably, nobody on the ground was killed or injured. An entire engine front casing landed in the front yard of a house in the suburb of Broomfield.

United Airlines said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s in current service. Japan’s aviation regulator told Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, which between them operate 32 planes of the affected model, to ground their planes. Boeing confirmed that 69 of the model were in service, with 59 in storage owing to lack of demand during the pandemic. According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, an initial examination of the Denver 777 engine revealed that two fan blades had fractured. Flight data recorders have been taken to Washington for detailed analysis.

The incident also appears very similar to when a 777 operated by United three years ago had the right-hand engine cowling blown off 45 minutes before landing in Honolulu. Investigators found two fan blades had fractured, with the fragments flying out of the engine and puncturing the fuselage.

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